Houston’s two airports – Hobby and Bush – were closed due to the Hurricane Harvey flooding, and it’s expected to stay that way until at least Thursday, August 31.
The airports serve millions of people each year. “George Bush Intercontinental Airport served 42.9 million customers last year & offers service to more Mexican destinations than any other airport in the nation,” the airport’s Twitter page says.
As for Houston Hobby: “William P. Hobby Airport is Houston’s second largest airport, has 4 runways & serves more than 12 million passengers each year,” its Twitter page says.
However, a viral photo showing submerged airplanes is fake. According to BGR.com, “The picture was actually made by digital artist Nickolay Lamm for search engine company StorageFront as part of a series showing the effect on rising sea levels.”
The above photo is fake, but what’s the real situation at the airports?
Here’s what you need to know:
The real photos are almost as dramatic as the fake one. They show runways that look like lakes. Here are some of those pictures circulated by local television news stations:
The runway floods led to Hobby’s closing.
Part of the issue is that the roads to Hobby airport are flooded.
The roads around Bush airport were also flooded.
Hobby was also getting very heavy rainfall as was Bush.
On August 27, Hobby airport wrote, “Airfield is closed due to standing water on runways. No inbound/outbound flights.”
Suspended Flights & Closings
Forget trying to fly into Houston’s airports. Southwest has suspended flights to and from Hobby.
On August 27, Bush airport suspended commercial flights, writing, “All commercial flight operations have been stopped until further notice. IB/OB roads are closed due to flooding.” The airport clarified on August 28: “To clarify, flights into/out of the Houston Airports are limited to humanitarian flights and first responder support for Hurricane recovery.”
United reported that Bush airport was closed until noon on Thursday and provided information about waivers.
On August 29, the airport was still closed. Bush airport wrote on Twitter: “Operations at Bush Airport are still suspended until further notice. Garages and ecopark lots are not flooded. IB & OB roads still closed.”
Bush airport shared this photo on Twitter to explain the closing:
Bush airport noted, “This entire situation is unprecedented.”
Hobby Airport posted nearly identical messages on Twitter, writing on August 27, “All commercial operations at Hobby Airport have ceased until further notice. No flights in/out and roadways in/out are closed.”
A follow-up message on August 28 read, “Operations at Hobby are still suspended until further notice. Garages and ecopark lot are not flooded. IB & OB roads still closed.”
As with Bush, the roads to Hobby airport are flooded. “There is high water on the IB/OB roads surrounding both airports. Garages & ecopark lots have not exp’d flooding.”
Stranded Passengers & Cancellations
Hundreds of passengers were stranded at the airports.
“Over the last few days, hundreds of cancelled flights, and the shut down of flight operations at IAH have left hundreds of passengers stranded,” Bush airport wrote on Facebook on August 28. “We have been working hard to find a way to accommodate them and today Spirit Airlines was able to get a special emergency flight to evacuate 180 people from Houston to Detroit and Chicago so that they may re-book flights and continue their journeys. Thank you again to Spirit for stepping up in this unparalleled time of need!”
At Hobby, 500 Southwest Airlines passengers were stranded at the airport by the Hurricane. “Southwest Airlines airlifted around 500 of its customers out of closed Houston Hobby Airport Sunday,” CNN reported. “The Southwest customers were stranded inside the airport when the FAA closed it earlier Sunday morning. All roads to and from the airport were also closed. It was unclear how many others were stuck at the airport.”
Bush airport said people should contact their airlines directly for rescheduling and fee waivers.
By August 26, there were more than 700 cancelled flights at Bush airport.
You can get more information on flight cancellations in Houston and waivers here: